Today we went to the Venice of the East, Zhou Zhuang. It’s a place Duncan and I had on our places to travel to while in China list and we got to do this trip for free with CIEE! It was very nice and the first “authentic” Chinese I’ve had.
There’s really not much to tell other than we wandered around exploring, took a boat ride, ate, sweat through our clothes, and now are completely exhausted. I did, however, try pigs’ hooves for the first time – they were huge, fatty, and delicious.
The two most exciting things from our trip in Zhou Zhuang are that I ordered in Chinese an iced Americano with milk and paid for it all by myself and that I had my first squatty potty experience! Though unrelated they were both successful and exciting ventures!
While wandering through the streets of Zhou Zhuang and on the bus ride there, I had a lot of time to think about all the things I’ve heard and seen during my first days in China. First off I want to say that I think the reason the Chinese are so successful at everything they do is because they are always caffeinated from drinking tea all day long! I’m slightly joking but I always accomplish more when I’m slightly over caffeinated so it’s not a crazy presumption, right?
On a more serious note, I’ve enjoyed comparing the US to China. One of the first questions that Americans ask when we meet each other is, “Where are you from?” whereas the Chinese seem to ask, “What do you do?” Though seemingly insignificant, this simple difference in introductory questions says a lot about the values of each culture. Americans, it seems, very strongly identify themselves and other people by their geographical location.
I’ve also found it very surprising how frequently gun ownership in America has been a topic of conversation. All Meiguoren (Americans) are believed to have guns and are quick to shoot people to solve any problems. Though clearly there are differences in opinion on gun ownership and rights within America, I doubt a significant number of people actually are as immediately reliant on their guns as the Chinese believe. Furthermore, according to one Chinese radio news station, eight out of ten Americans outright want to go to war with China immediately! What an interesting perception of Americans considering we are taught to believe China wants to go to war with us! From my vantage point, both seem unlikely.
On a happier note, the ideal foreign English teacher for Chinese students is considered to be a female with blonde hair and blue eyes that has American English as a native language or is Canadian because, according to an Australian working with CIEE, “it’s like America without the foreign policy”. I guess I’ve got this job covered, at least aesthetically. 😛
Tomorrow is our last full day of orientation and in Shanghai. My new home is getting so close!
Have a good day!